Interview with Mercurr, a B2B Marketplace for International Expansion
Tell us about mercurr. What inspired you to start this business?
mercurr is an online b-to-b marketplace matching fast growing companies targeting new markets with the best local experts and partners (Outsourced sales & Business developers, HR companies, PR agencies, Lawyers, Accountants and Consultants).
The idea came from another project we created 3 years ago, the W Project (website only in French, latest videos subtitled). The W Project is a web-media on French entrepreneurship all around the world. In 2013, we travelled 13 countries during one year and made more than 70 video interviews with French entrepreneurs. When we came back, many friends running startups asked us for some contacts abroad for their global expansion. This is how we started mercurr.
Why is mercurr needed? Who are your potential users/clients?
mercurr is needed because you usually have a limited network when you target a new market. You can reach 2 or 3 contacts of course, but it takes a lot of time to find reliable partners, with relevant references and affordable prices. At mercurr, our goal is to help fast-growing companies, doing well on their own market, to expand into a new country. We unlock a network of vetted service providers for them.
How do you go about finding local experts? What's in it for them?
To find our community of local experts, we work on referral only. We first rely on all the entrepreneurs we met in different countries. They all have local experts they work with and they are usually happy to recommend them. As our community is now growing, our experts start referring their peers. That makes our network more and more efficient.
We are building win-win partnerships with our community of experts, as we work on success only. Our business introductions are free, but if they sign a deal with a referred customer, we take a commission on this deal. We picture ourselves as business facilitators for them.
What's your personal background?
I’m Brice, 28 years old and I have a business & project management background. During my studies, I enjoyed my experiences in different countries: an internship in China, an exchange program in Brazil. After I graduated, I decided to go and discover the world with Thomas, a good friend of mine. This is how we created the W Project, soon joined by Edgar. After 2 years, we decided to launch mercurr and onboarded our web developer Bruno. I’m in charge of our amazing experts community.
What do you think of HK's startup ecosystem?
I am pretty new in Hong Kong as I arrived one year ago, so I’m far from knowing everything about it but I have a very positive impression about the ecosystem.
It is driven by some VCs and accelerators that understood very well the strengths of Hong Kong: DBS accelerator for Fintech, Blueprint for B2B Tech, Brinc.io for Hardware.
On the other side, events (from Startup Week-End to Rise Conference), media (StartupsHK & Jumpstart Mag), communities (WHub) and coworking spaces all help the Hk startups growing very quickly. The next challenge everyone’s working on: bringing more startups on the international scene.
Which HK startups do you admire?
I work from Blueprint and I see amazing projects around me everyday. Here are a few of them I meet more regularly:
Smartcasual: a great one-on-one professional networking app. I’ve seen these guys starting it from scratch, I beta-tested the app last summer in Paris and they are now about to release the official version: go for it!
Popscout: I met Romain when he arrived in Hong Kong and started his marketplace for short-term retail, with no contact at all. He is now one of the ten startups of the 2nd batch of Blueprint accelerator and growing his business quickly.
TofuPay: I took part in the startup weekend TofyPay won. To be honest, I’m not sure I can remember the guy pitching the idea at the beginning of the week-end. But what a long path they have been through since then: Blueprint accelerator batch 1, then DBS-Nest accelerator batch 1 and they are now beta-testing their product.
WHub: The first time I met Karen and Karena, we had a really interesting discussion about Startups and the challenges we were facing (pretty much the same). Their latest video is evidence of the amazing job they do for the Hong Kong startup community.
What's next for Mercurr?
We work on three challenges today.
- Growing our business and making more business introductions between companies expanding abroad and their potential local partners. We are really focused on our KPIs.
- Building our online marketplace. The first version is to be released by the end of October and will enable us to deal with more and more projects.
- Branding our company to get closer to our customer when we release our marketplace.
I want to thank Jumpstart Mag for giving us the opportunity of this interview. And if anyone hear about a company or a startup looking for partners in a foreign country, please let me know - firstname.lastname@example.org ;)